Category: Archive

Echo Analysis: Attacking S.F. carries risks for Republic’s other parties

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Ahern said Sunday he would not enter coalition government with Sinn Fein as he believed that the party was an agent of “poverty” and utterly unsuited to Fianna Fail.
“Even a radical overhaul of Sinn Fein economic policy would have little real credibility after 35 years of Marxism,” Ahern said.
“I believe Sinn Fein are agents of poverty and disadvantage. I believe the very notion of Sinn Fein in government would lead to a flight of investment, which is untenable in a small, open economy.
“For the good of the country, we cannot accept those policies in government. A practical republican programme delivering real benefits for ordinary people would be impossible with Sinn Fein in government. In such circumstances, I would lead my party into opposition rather than contemplate coalition with Sinn Fein or an arrangement for their support in government.”
The Fianna Fail leader made his comments in order to achieve two aims. Firstly, he, not for the first time, sought to quash speculation that his party might invite Sinn Fein into government. Ahern fears that such talk may push voters into the arms of Fine Gael.
Secondly, he calculated the timing of his statement to coincide with Fine Gael’s ard fheis. Ahern knew that by giving his statement to the Sunday Independent newspaper it was guaranteed to receive front-page billing.
While his harsh words certainly had the effect of stealing Fine Gael’s thunder, they are unlikely to put an end to talk of Sinn Fein in government.
The Fine Gael leader responded by saying it was hard to believe Ahern considering Fianna Fail had struck private deals with Sinn Fein on matters such as the release of Garda Jerry McCabe’s killers and speaking rights for Northern MPs in the Dail.
The Progressive Democrats are also intent on making clear their opposition to Sinn Fein. Quoted on Sunday, PD leader Mary Harney described the party’s policies as “daft”.
“Their economic policies are daft, they are anti-European,” said Harney. “Their links with criminality, well, the jury is still out as far as I am concerned.
“I think that they are a threat to democracy in their current form. Others will have to answer about who they are a threat to, but I don?t see them drawing support from the PDs or vice versa.”
Instead of resolving the issue of Sinn Fein in government, Ahern’s salvo merely marks a ratcheting up of anti-Sinn Fein comment. As the election nears, all the southern parties will bid to out-do each other in declaring themselves opposed to the party.
However, each of them are faced with a problem. By criticizing Sinn Fein and Gerry Adams, who until quite recently was the most popular party leader in the country, they run the risk of coming across as “anti-republican” in the very broadest sense.

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